OverviewAt 9,970 feet, Mariuolumne Dome is the tallest dome in Tuolumne Meadows. At 700 feet, it is second only to Fairview Dome in freestanding height. Drug Dome lies at its foot on the north. Lamb Dome is another half mile north. The long wall of Medlicott Dome is to the west and south, forming the western rampart of a common massif. The ungainly name is a concatenation of Mariposa and Tuolumne; the border between the two counties lies near the base of the formation.
Mariuolumne Dome's main attraction is its technical routes, but its height and situation make it a worthy hiking goal as well. It is easy class 2 from the east side, which is readily accessible via trail and a little cross country. From the summit one has a panoramic view of the Tuolumne high country: Cathedral Peak and Eichorn's pinnacle are a short distance to the east; Tressider and Tenaya Peaks to the south; Tenaya Lake, Pywiack Domw and Stately Pleasure Dome to the southwest; and Fairview Dome and Daff Dome to the north east.
Getting ThereParking for Mariuolumne Dome is on the east side of Highway 120 in Tuolumne Meadows. The large dirt parking area is about 2.5 miles east of Tenaya Lake, or 1.5 miles west of Fairview Dome.
There are four climbing areas on the dome: the North Wall, West Wall, Right Side, and Lost Wall. North and West Wall routes share one approach, and right Side and Lost Wall share another. By Tuolumne standards either approach is rather long and involved.
All approaches begins by taking the obvious climbers trail from the parking area. After a few minutes you will emerge from the forest at the talus field below the spectacular Drug Dome. Here the paths diverge. For the North and West Walls find the use trail on the left that winds its way through the forest, then skirts the base of the cliffs until disappearing in a talus/boulder field on the north side of the formation. Climb this until it is possible to exit onto obvious slabs on the right. The North Wall is directly above the talus/slab area. For the West Wall ascend the slabs heading up and right, and then right along the base of the dome. The slabs narrow to ledges with considerable exposure; some may want to rope up for this part of the approach. After reaching the broad area at the top of Drug Dome, continue on around the base of Mariuolumne Dome, aiming for the upper end of the trees. West Wall climbs begin here, though most require that you continue along exposed fourth class ledges (many will want to rope up here as well) that lead 100 feet around a corner and to a broad third class ledge. The classic Hobbit Book starts at the right side of this ledge. 1.5-2 hours. < 1 mile, 1,000 feet gain.
To reach the Right Side and Lost Wall areas, head up and right when you reach the talus field below Drug Dome. Continue around the dome and ascend the gully between Drug Dome and Medlicott Dome. At the top of the gully is a small lake (Lake of the Domes). The West Wall is to the east of the lake. Lost wall is further right, past a broad gully.
If you are up to it, it is possible to avoid the laborious approach by either climbing one of the routes on Drug Dome (Oz, 4 pitches, 5.10d is popular), or climbing the apron below Mariuolumne Dome. JD has provided a detailed description of one such approach, which is included in the Alternate Approaches section below.
Climbs on North Wall are typically one pitch, West Wall routes around four pitches, Right Side climbs slightly shorter than West Wall, and Lost Wall routes 1-2 pitches.
|North Wall Routes|
|Seconds to Darkness||5.8||Coments from MichaelJ: One good reason to climb fast: Running up Seconds to Darkness on the descent. After descending the split gully, turn left and you'll see one of the best 5.8 routes anywhere. The climb is only 70 feet but you'll pull four roofs on a perfect hands crack all the way. Have your crack technique dialed because this route is an old school 5.8 (I could name a dozen Yosemite 5.9s that are easier) and you'll be hanging from jams to place gear on all the crux moves. A single rope rap from slings gets you back to the ground.|
|Easy Wind||5.11c||Pro to 6 inches|
|Arms Race||5.10d||Pro to 3.5 inches|
|Missing Link||5.11c||Pro to 6 inches|
|Stubble Face||5.12b R|
|Razor Back||5.10d PG/R||West Face Routes|
|Shrouds Have No Pockets||5.10a PG|
|Whalin' Dwalin||5.10b PG|
|Middle Earth||5.10a PG|
|Hobbit Book||5.7R||Four pitches of climbing in the prominent left-facing corner on the right side of the face. The third pitch has a 60-foot runout section of easy, though steep, face climbing on plates.|
|Mesmerized||5.11 R||Not often climbed||Right Side (AKA Nazgul Wall) Routes|
|The Cony||5.8 PG|
|Break Dancing||5.9 R|
|Return Engagement||5.10 R|
|Sharkey's End||5.8 PG/R|
|The Nazgul||5.10b PG|
|Black Rider||5.10b PG/R|
|Sunstroke||5.11a R||Lost Wall Routes|
|The Incredible Hulk||5.9 R|
|Lost With a GPS||5.9 PG|
|Armed Knobbery||5.8 R|
|Working for Peanuts||5.10a R|
|Rock Vixen||5.7 R|
|Finders Keepers||5.6 R/X|
DescentFrom the summit (west Wall routes), walk down sandy slabs towards Fairview Dome. When you reach the forest, turn left, and find a narrow class 2/3 chute leading down to the talus/boulder field you climbed on the way in. Follow your steps back to the car. 1-2 hours.
North Wall routes top out just west of the afore-mentioned class 2/3 chute. Traverse over and work your way down.
Right Side routes top out on a formation separated from the main dome by a large cleft. Drop into the cleft, and then head south down a class 2 gully until it is possible to contour back to the base of the climbs. Retrace your steps back to the car.
Red TapeThe dome lies in the heart of Yosemite National Park. One week passes cost $20 per car in 2007. Annual national park passes were $80. The Tuolomne Meadows Logistics Page contains additional detail, plus links to useful resources. Check it out!
CampingThe two closest campgrounds are the main campground in Tuolumne Meadows, and Porcupine Flat, about 8 miles west on SR120. Although the main campground is located in the midst of incomparable beauty, with store, gas station, hot showers and hot food for sale, it is also very crowded; without reservations you will have a hard time finding a spot. The Porcupine Flat campground is about equidistant from the dome, and is much more likely to have an available space. It’s also a lot cheaper ($8/night vs. $18/night). The Tuolomne Meadows Logistics Page has additional information on these and other campgrounds in the area.
Alternate ApproachesThe following was provided by JD:
Instead of taking the usual trail left of Drug Dome, cut right just before the talus and follow a worn path along the base of the wall around to the slabby apron below Mariuolumne's West Face.
From the apron, the Reid/Falkenstein guide mentions a bolted 4 pitch route that ends with either 5.11 climbing or a poorly protected 5.8 mantel. A friend of mine told me the way he's climbed the slabs is really runout. The Supertopo website has a description of a route that includes some 5.8 slab climbing past a 1/4" bolt. We tried to find this last way...
Here's what we ended up doing:
Hike and scramble up and right until continuing would involve entering chimneys in the gully. Then third class up a little ways to a nice flat ledge and rope up. Continue up and right, mostly third class with the occasional easy fifth class step, to a right facing corner with a good crack (5.6 or 5.7). When this ends, traverse left about twenty feet and then slightly up to a large ledge. This pitch is about 210 feet depending on where you rope up.
From the ledge boulder past a little vegetation for a couple moves in a corner (5.8) to gain an easy slab. Traverse left about twenty feet to a big white hunk of granite and pop over onto the ledge right at the start of Hobbit Book.
This pitch and a half of climbing is fast, fun, clean, and very well protected. I can't think of a good reason to do the standard approach hike ever again.
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